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India vs Mauritius in tri-nation football, Stephen Constantine may test bench

India will take on Mauritius in the first match of the tri-nation football series on Saturday. National coach Stephen Constantine wants to try new players

football Updated: Aug 19, 2017 12:47 IST
India vs Mauritius,Indian football team,Trination Cup football
The Indian football team members during a practice session in Mumbai ahead of their Tri-Nation Cup opener against (AIFF)

India will play Mauritius for the first time when they face off against the tiny island nation in the first match of the tri-nation series on Saturday, August 19. India’s head coach Stephen Constantine indicated that the matchup could provide upcoming players an opportunity to turn out in national team colours but remained wary of the threat posed by the African nation.

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“There could be opportunities for younger players but we are not going to underestimate or disrespect the quality of the two teams that are here. Mauritius for example recently lost 2-0 to Ghana in Ghana. A result like that indicates that they are doing something right,” said Constantine a day prior to the commencement of the tournament.

The coach also divulged that Indian defender Sandesh Jhingan will lead the team against Mauritius, giving the 24-year old from Chandigarh his first armband. He further disclosed that the team is free of injuries and that no Bengaluru FC players will take part in the tournament.

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“No players are injured, just a bit sore from the week-long training sessions but that is a habit under my regime,” he said.

Constantine though, admitted that his initial proposal to warm the team up for the AFC Asian Cup fixture against Macau was to play an Asian team or even host a four-nation tournament.

“My initial plan was to play one game preferably close to Macau, maybe Hong Kong or Chinese Taipei who play similar style of football (to Macau). But when the opportunity came to play two games, it gave me the chance to try new players.

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“We wanted one team each from Africa, Caribbean and possibly from Asia to make it a four-team tournament,” the Englishman revealed.

India’s last competitive game was their 2-0 win against Nepal and Constantine acknowledged the need to get back to full fitness and the importance of competing with teams from all over the world.

“I am happy we have two opponents that will give us different problems and a chance to reacquaint ourselves, not having played since June.

“Also, if we want to compete at the top level, we need to be able to play against countries from different continents instead of just playing Asian teams,” said the 54-year old Stephen Constantine.

Highlighting the Indian team’s roadmap ahead, he added, “The vision is to qualify for the Asian Cup. The next step will be to compete with the big guns in Asia. We need to qualify for the Asian Cup more often before we think of making it to the World Cup.”

The Mauritius contingent on the other hand, led by head coach Francisco Filho revealed that he would field a young team against India. “It is a young team and most of the players on the international side play in Europe. It is a mix of experience,” said Filho.

“It is a good exposure because we have always played countries in Africa. Playing in the Asian circuit will also be beneficial. It will be a new experience in terms of tactics and playing style,” added former Mauritius captain Jonathan Bru also representing the African nation at the media gathering.

First Published: Aug 18, 2017 20:20 IST